Bronx Housing Development Backed by Adams Passes Council Committee Hurdle

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A contentious proposal to build 349 apartment units — with up to 160 of them to be deemed affordable — in the Bronx that has the backing of Mayor Eric Adams will advance to a full New York City Council vote.

The Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises and the Committee on Land Use unanimously approved the rezoning application to redevelop the Foodtown at 2945 Bruckner Boulevard into an eight-story residential building on Thursday.

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Adams previously threw his support behind the proposal, despite initial opposition from local Councilwoman Marjorie Velázquez.

Developers Peter and Joseph Bivona, brothers who own the Foodtown, plan to redevelop under the name Throggs Neck Associates. A local man named James Cervino is also among the developers in the group.

The project, which includes an eight-story building, has not been popular in a neighborhood dominated by single-family homes. Many residents feel it doesn’t fit the character of the neighborhood, and the proposal was shot down by the local community board. The development would replace a batting cage, 12 empty parcels and bring 54,000 square feet of commercial space to the area, according to The Real Deal. It’s unclear whether the supermarket would occupy that space or if it would be leased to another business.

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2945 Bruckner Boulevard in the Bronx. Photo: PropertyShark

“We are in the middle of a citywide housing crisis that is similarly felt by residents of my district, with seniors and working people facing strains to remain in our neighborhoods,” Velázquez said in a statement. “This provides tangible benefits for the people of our community and transforms the unfortunate reality that this office before me had been unable to provide affordable housing for our residents, with less than 60 units produced in the last eight years. We have far surpassed that in less than a year.”

The housing will be spread out between four buildings along a stretch of Bruckner Boulevard and East Tremont Avenue in Throggs Neck. Earlier, Velázquez had opposed the proposal on the grounds that the developers did not initially commit to using workers from the New York City District Council of Carpenters

“Velázquez courageously demanded that any development in her district must include local jobs that build up the middle class rather than tear it down — and she succeeded,” Joseph Geiger, executive secretary-treasurer of the District Council of Carpenters, said in a statement. “That kind of unyielding dedication to the middle class and her district is what we need more of in our elected officials if we are going to end the housing and affordability crisis.”

It’s unclear what other changes were made to win the approval from Velázquez apart from the decision to use a union workforce.

The Bivona brothers could not immediately be reached for comment, but defended their rezoning efforts in a previous committee meeting. One testified that high taxes and a dwindling customer base were wrecking their bottom line.

“For the commercial businesses in this area, it has been a struggle to operate, especially given the high taxes that are levied against us,” Peter Bivona said during a September hearing. “Without such an upgrade, the future of the supermarket is uncertain. … We want a project that not only saves the supermarket and secures its future in Throggs Neck but also to help this community by addressing the affordable housing crisis.”

Mark Hallum can be reached at mhallum@commercialobserver.com.